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Open newsletter – february 23, 2022

ASIA

A divide is emerging between how the Asia Pacific region has responded to the Omicron wave of COVID-19, and how North American and Western European countries have responded. East Asia Forum, Jeremy Youde: Asia’s cautious approach to Omicron

AUSTRALIA

One of the former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials involved with a new group “Diplomats for Climate Action Now” recently voiced regret that during his decades representing Australia, he never really got to promote climate leadership. The Interpreter, Melissa Conley Tyler: Transforming Australian diplomacy for climate leadership | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

In the lead-up to every federal election, ASPI looks at the big challenges facing Australia and what’s needed to address them. Agenda for change 2022 includes a chapter by national security expert Michael Shoebridge titled ‘From building defensive resilience to creating prosperity and security: a successful Australia in a divided and dangerous world’. This chapter seeks to connect the ‘strategic, technological and economic interests’ of the big ideas presented in other chapters. The Strategist, : Agenda for change: building prosperity and security

AUSTRALIA – CHINA

Australia has accused a Chinese ship of illuminating one of its P-8A Poseidon multimission aircraft with a “military grade” laser while it flew over waters north of the Pacific nation. Defense News, Mike Yeo: Australia accuses China of using ‘military grade’ laser against P-8A aircraft

CHINA

Qualcuno, in Cina, ha finito la benzina. E il corto circuito è servito. Le grandi banche cinesi cominciano a scontare i primi effetti di due anni di progressivo dissanguamento, imputabile a due fattori piuttosto precisi e circoscritti. Da un lato la crisi finanziaria delle economie in via di sviluppo, africane in testa, destinatarie di enormi finanziamenti, dalla dubbia natura, da parte degli istituti del Dragone. Chi ha ricevuto i prestiti non è più riuscito a rimborsarli e questo ha fatto scattare le clausole capestro che hanno consentito a Pechino di mettere le mani sulle infrastrutture dei Paesi finiti nella rete cinese. Ma ha anche lasciato a bocca asciutta le stesse banche. Formiche, Gianluca Zapponini: Banche cinesi in crisi di liquidità. E il regime colpisce ancora Jack Ma

CHINA – RUSSIA

Russia and China are making much of their strategic partnership as a counterbalance to their stresses with the West, but the European Union is still much more important economically to Russia than is China, and Australia comprehensively trumps Russia as a supplier to China. There’s no realistic prospect of China becoming an alternative market to Europe for Russia in the face of fresh sanctions targeting its exports. The Strategist, David Uren: Chinese market won’t dampen the effects of economic sanctions on Russia

CHINA – TAIWAN

China’s Foreign Ministry has said that Taiwan is “not Ukraine” and has always been a part of China, following Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s call to bolster vigilance in the face of the territorial crisis in Eastern Europe. RFE RL: Chinese Foreign Ministry: Taiwan Is ‘Not Ukraine’ (rferl.org)

CHINA – USA

The belief that the Chinese know far more about America than Americans know about China is a misconception. In the age of globalisation and the internet, a knowledge asymmetry actually exists between the Chinese and the Americans — middle class Americans seem to have an understanding of Chinese culture, history and system based on rigorous academic research and analysis, but the Chinese lack the same level of understanding of the Americans. US academic Wu Guo shares his views on why the “knowledge deficit” exists in China. ThinkChina, Wu Guo: Why the Americans know China better than the Chinese know the US, Society News

China said Monday it will impose new sanctions on U.S. defense contractors Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin due to their arms sales to Taiwan, stepping up a feud with Washington over security and Beijing’s strategic ambitions. The Associated Press, Defense News: China sanctions Raytheon, Lockheed over Taiwan deal

CLIMATE SECURITY – USA – CHINA – INDO PACIFIC

In the past few years, much ink has been spilled by international relations and climate experts on whether tackling climate change is compatible with competition with China. At one extreme, there are China hawks who argue that climate change is a ‘dangerous distraction’ for the US Defense Department. At the other extreme are China doves, a group of whom wrote a letter in 2020 calling for an end to antagonism from the West towards China because it undermines global goals on climate. The Strategist, : Great-power competition and climate security in 2035

ETHIOPIA

Domenica 21 febbraio, premendo una serie di bottoni virtuali in diretta televisiva, il primo ministro etiope Abiy Ahmedha ufficialmente avviato la produzione di energia nella centrale idroelettrica della mega-diga Gerd, sul Nilo Blu. Una vera pietra miliare in una strada lunga e controversa, che vede i Paesi a valle – Sudan ed Egitto – preoccupati per l’impatto della diga etiope sulla propria sicurezza idrica. La condanna del ministero degli Esteri egiziano è arrivata poco dopo la diretta. Formiche, Otto Lanzavecchia: La diga della discordia. L’Etiopia accende le turbine sul Nilo

EUROPE

Il governo Draghi si fonda su europeismo e atlantismo e la crisi in Ucraina ci interroga su cosa fare per rafforzare l’Unione Europea e la NATO. Mostra infatti l’impotenza dei governi nazionali, che dovrebbero spiegare ai cittadini europei perché non creano un’unione della difesa, dell’energia e quindi l’unione politica, creando una sovranità europea in grado di affrontare le sfide geopolitiche contemporanee. Euractiv, Roberto Castaldi: Crisi in Ucraina: alcune domande a Draghi e ai governi europei

GERMANY – EUROPE – NORVAY – NORTH AFRICA – AZERBAIJAN

È la madre di tutte le domande che le cancellerie europee si stanno ponendo in queste ore: quanto si potrà resistere se Vladimir Putin dovesse chiudere i rubinetti del gas. Secondo l’Istituto economico tedesco (IW Köln) Norvegia, Nord Africa e Azerbaigian potrebbero rappresentare il piano B di Germania e Ue per non restare senza forniture. Ma il tutto andrà rapportato anche all’evoluzione del Nord Stream 2 e all’andamento dei prezzi. Formiche, Francesco De Palo: Il piano per non restare senza gas passa da Norvegia, Nord Africa e Azerbaigian

GERMANY – RUSSIA

German prosecutors said Tuesday they have indicted a businessman on suspicion of breaking arms control laws by helping Russia purchase sophisticated machinery that could be used to make chemical weapons. The Associated Press, Defense News: Germany indicts arms control breach suspect over Russia sale

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL – AFRICA

Over the past two decades, the engagement of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries with Africa has been shaped largely by a narrow set of economic and security interests among Gulf states rather than a long-term commitment to deep cooperation with Africa. Brookings, Tarik M. Yousef: Deepening Gulf engagement with sub-Saharan Africa

ISRAEL

Israel on Monday said it successfully tested a new naval air defense system, intercepting a series of threats in what officials called a key layer of protection against Iran and its proxies in the region. The Associated Press, Defense News: Israel successfully tests naval version of Iron Dome

ISRAEL – SYRIA

Israel has fired several missiles at Syria’s border province of Quneitra, causing “material damage”. A Syrian military statement did not give details about the positions that came under attack early on Wednesday. Al Jazeera: Israel fires missiles on border positions inside Syria

METAVERSE

My company, IDC, defines the metaverse as “an evolution of today’s internet that leverages mobile devices, augmented and virtual reality headsets and next-generation networks to create persistent and continuous user experiences with a strong sense of presence.”. IndustryWeek, Jan Burian: Is the ‘Industrial Metaverse’ the Next Big Thing?

MYANMAR

While the military coup in Myanmar has dominated mention of the country in international news over the last 12 months, the slow wheels of international justice for the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority have continued to turn in the background. The Interpreter, Adam Simpson, Juliette McIntyre: It’s a mistake to allow Myanmar’s junta to appear in Rohingya case | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

PAKISTAN – RUSSIA

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Moscow on Wednesday to push for the construction of a long-delayed, multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline to be built in collaboration with Russian companies, an official said. Reuters, : Pakistan PM flies to Moscow to advance pipeline project

QATAR – IRAN

Qatar and Iran have signed 14 agreements during President Ebrahim Raisi’s two-day trip to Doha this week. Raisi was accompanied by oil minister Javad Owji and foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on the trip, which also included participation in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in the Qatari capital. Al Jazeera, Maziar Motamedi: Iran, Qatar sign major agreements on Raisi’s Doha trip

RUSSIA

The fortunes of Russia’s super-rich have tumbled $32 billion this year, with the escalating conflict in Ukraine poised to make that wealth destruction much larger. U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday unleashed sanctions targeting Russia’s sale of sovereign debt abroad and the country’s elites, and said he’s sending an unspecified number of additional U.S. troops to the Baltics in a defensive move to defend NATO countries. Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, Ben Stupples: Russian billionaires see wealth tumble as tensions escalate

RUSSIA – TURKEY

Under the auspices of the Caucasian Federation in Turkey (Kaffed), that country’s Circassian Association and its most important branches in Ankara and Istanbul are planning to open an office that will provide support for Circassians who want to return to their ancestral homeland in the Northwest Caucasus. This new push for Circassian repatriation is welcomed by many of the more than five million Circassians living outside the Russian Federation, including in Turkey, where the diaspora numbers some three million. However, Moscow has long resisted this drive, concerned that the return of a significant number of Circassians to the North Caucasus would upend Russian political and territorial arrangements in the region and perhaps beyond. Ankara, in turn, has been cautious about allowing such activities lest Moscow respond harshly—it only permitted the formation of a Circassian Cultural Center in Istanbul in 2019 (Kavkazsky Uzel, April 27, 2019). But now the Turkish government has a pressing new concern—the 30,000 Circassians who have fled to Turkey from war-torn Syria—and so appears increasingly disposed to facilitate this effort, which is likely to broaden over time (Circassianpress.blogspot.com), February 15, 2022). The Jamestown Foundation, Paul Globe: Push for Circassian Repatriation Set to Spark New Tensions Between Moscow and Ankara

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions and consequences) 

“L’Ucraina non è solo un paese confinante ma è parte integrane della nostra storia, cultura e spazio spirituale”. Vladimir Putin ha provato a vestire di dignità storica il riconoscimento delle Repubbliche di Donetsk e Lugansk, mossa che allontana la sigla del negoziato e fa scattare le prime, modeste, sanzioni. StartMag, Maria Scopece: Ucraina: cosa vuole davvero Putin. L’analisi di Fabbri

Corsa al titanio russo per Airbus, Boeing e le società aerospaziali. Il titanio è utilizzato nei motori degli aerei (in percentuali del 14-15%) ed è in gran parte fornito dalla Russia. L’escalation delle tensioni tra la Russia e l’Occidente, che non trova ancora una soluzione nonostante i costanti sforzi diplomatici, potrebbe avere un impatto sulla catena di approvvigionamento aerospaziale. StartMag, Chiara Rossi: Russia-Ucraina: Boeing e Airbus temono sulle forniture di titanio?

L’Italia è uno dei Paesi europei meno favorevoli all’imposizione di sanzioni dure contro la Russia. Ecco perché e quali sono i settori, le aziende e gli istituti di credito più attivi a Mosca. Fatti, nomi, numeri e analisi. StartMag, Marco Dell’Aguzzo: Chi piangerà di più in Italia per le sanzioni contro la Russia

In un contributo pubblicato su Formiche.net dieci giorni fa sostenevo che la pressione russa sull’Ucraina era divenuta tale che, di fatto, Putin aveva superato, e volutamente, un’evidente, decisiva linea di demarcazione. Al leader russo restava una sola alternativa: o ridurre la pressione, iniziando il ritiro delle truppe schierate ai confini dell’Ucraina; o proseguire l’azione avviata un anno fa, nel quadro di una “guerra ibrida” che a fasi alterne ne dura da otto ed è divenuta progressivamente più intensa dal tardo autunno. Formiche, Luciano Bozzo: Putin e il modello del carciofo. La versione del prof. Bozzo

Con la dichiarazione di lunedì 21, Vladimir Putin ha “tratto il dado” e si è avviato su una strada di cui lui solo conosce l’obiettivo. Io stesso sono rimasto sorpreso, poiché pensavo che il Cremlino avesse l’obiettivo pragmaticamente definito della riacquisizione di una centralità politica, cui Mosca era stata costretta a rinunciare con la sconfitta nella Guerra fredda, unito all’esigenza squisitamente russa di una fascia di garanzia per guadagnare profondità a fronte di un’ipotetica invasione. Evidentemente mi sbagliavo e ci troviamo di fronte a una ferrea volontà di rinnovare un impero, quale era storicamente quello zarista. Possiamo ora solo ipotizzare le mosse future: si accontenterà Putin della creazione di due staterelli vassalli, a protezione delle terre di Rostov e Voronez, o cercherà anche di impadronirsi di una fascia che attraverso Mariupol riunisca fisicamente la Russia alla Crimea? O non vorrà anche, utilizzando tutti i metodi della guerra ibrida, un cambio di regime a Kiev, per installarvi un Vidkun Quisling filorusso? Formiche, Vincenzo Camporini: Gli obiettivi imperiali di Putin letti dal generale Camporini

Ursula von der Leyen, presidente della Commissione europea, accoglie con favore “l’accordo politico sul nuovo pacchetto di sanzioni alla Russia” raggiunto ieri dai Paesi membri all’unanimità. “La decisione della Russia di riconoscere le regioni ucraine di Luhansk e Donetsk è illegale e completamente inaccettabile”, ha dichiarato. “Lo stesso è vero per la decisione di inviare truppe in queste regioni. Non possiamo accettarlo. Queste decisioni violano la sovranità e l’integrità territoriale dell’Ucraina. La Russia ha violato la sovranità e l’integrità territoriale dell’Ucraina. La Russia non ha rispettato i suoi obblighi internazionali e viola i principi chiave del diritto internazionale. La Russia è la responsabile di questa escalation”, ha evidenziato ancora. “Ora finalizzeremo velocemente il pacchetto di sanzioni e ci coordineremo da vicino con i nostri partner come fatto finora”. Formiche, Chiara Masi: L’Ue cala le sanzioni contro 351 membri della Duma

Il primo ministro giapponese Fumio Kishida annuncia che il suo governo ha varato un pacchetto di sanzioni contro la Russia per le sue azioni in Ucraina — dove i soldati russi hanno violato la sovranità territoriale di Kiev inviando alcune unità nei territori occupati del Donbas, una mossa che segue una decisone del presidente Vladimir Putin annunciata in un discorso televisivo in cui non solo ha riconosciuto l’indipendenza delle autoproclamate repubbliche separatiste di Donetsk e Luhansk, ma è anche arrivato a mettere in discussione l’esistenza stessa dell’Ucraina. Formiche, Emanuele Rossi: Il Giappone sanziona la Russia e si schiera più a Occidente dell’Europa

Francesco occupa lo spazio lasciato libero dall’impossibilità a operare come vero centro del multipolarismo dell’Onu e dallo scomparso pacifismo. È questo il grande valore culturale, prima che politico, della giornata di digiuno indetta dal vescovo di Roma per il 2 marzo, mercoledì delle ceneri. La forza dell’azione del papa della fratellanza spazza il campo da voci che volevano il testimone globale della fraternità, valore fondante per il cristianesimo ma anche per l’illuminismo, acquiescente con il Cremlino. Francesco invece rimane il leader morale globale, non è acquiescente con i poteri mondani se prevaricano, senza essere contro alcun popolo, dunque ricrea uno spazio multilaterale e cosmopolita rimasto vuoto per la crisi esistenziale dell’Onu e del pacifismo. Formiche, Riccardo Cristiano: Francesco, l’Ucraina e l’urgenza di un nuovo pacifismo

Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday said that there’s a lot at stake as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalates. The Hill, Sarakshi Rai: Panetta on Ukraine crisis: ‘What’s at stake is whether we’ve learned the lessons from World War II’

Satellite images taken on Tuesday indicate a new deployment of military vehicles and troops tents in southern Belarus, a space technology company said. The Hill, Caroline Vakil: Images show new deployment of military vehicles, troop tents in southern Belarus, company says

he eyes of the world are focused on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and escalating threats from the White House to punish the incursion. But Russia’s reach extends beyond Ukraine, and Moscow undoubtedly will retaliate against the U.S. for working to stymie Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans. How? By using information and psychological warfare, and a focused plan to undermine Americans’ faith in our democratic system. The Hill, David Shedd, Ivana Stradner: Russia will retaliate with psychological warfare — the US should do the same

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday urged the country’s allies to take more steps against Russia immediately in an effort to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from further escalating tensions with the former Soviet state. The Hill, Monique Beals: Ukraine calls on allies to increase pressure on Russia after first ‘decisive steps’

The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council asked its parliament to introduce a nationwide state of emergency amid the threat of a Russian invasion, according to multiple reports on Wednesday. The Hill, Maureen Bresley: Ukraine officials move toward state of national emergency

The events surrounding the Ukraine crisis – irrespective of whether Russia continues to realize its threats to invade, or the NATO countries and Russia reach agreements that at least for now remove the threat of a Russian full-scale attack against Ukraine – already pose challenges to the international order that has existed for the past three decades. Similarly, they have direct and indirect, immediate and longer-term consequences for the Middle East in general, and for Israel in particular. In any case, and even if Israel prefers to sit on the fence, it must side with Washington’s position in light of the special relations between them and the American commitment to its security. Inter alia, it is recommended that Israel refrain from a confrontation with the administration, certainly in public, even if a new nuclear agreement with Iran is achieved. At the same time, at this stage Israel should maintain channels of dialogue with Moscow to the extent possible – including due to the essential need to avoid military friction in the northern arena. In addition, Israel should continue to bolster its relations with the region’s countries and convey positive messages, in order to prepare for the possibility of the internal shocks they may confront resulting from the international crisis, and in order to prevent regression in the normalization process. INSS, Eldad Shavit, Udi Dekel, Anat N. Kurz: The Cold War is Heating Up: Implications for Israel

Russian President Vladimir Putin can do a lot more damage in Ukraine and the United States is prepared to respond by withholding technology and resources if he does, deputy U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Wednesday. Reuters: U.S. will cut Russia off from tech, resources if Putin escalates -U.S. official

Andrey Turchak, a senior member of Russia’s ruling party, said on Wednesday that the Russian military would only enter two breakaway regions in Ukraine recognised by Moscow as independent states if it was asked to do so by separatist leaders there. Reuters: Russian military will only enter Ukraine’s Donbass if separatists ask

Ukraine deserves European Union candidate status, and Poland and Lithuania will support it in this goal, the presidents of the two countries said in a joint declaration with the Ukrainian president on Wednesday. Reuters: Poland and Lithuania say Ukraine deserves EU candidate status due to ‘current security challenges’

Britain has asked the media regulator to review the broadcast licence of Russian news channel RT after the Kremlin recognised two rebel regions of eastern Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday. Reuters and : UK asks regulator to review licence of Russian channel RT – Johnson

The United States and its allies unveiled more sanctions against Russia on Wednesday over its recognition of two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine, while making clear they were keeping tougher measures in reserve in case of a full-scale invasion by Moscow. Reuters, and : U.S. and allies unveil more Russia sanctions but keep big guns in reserve

Ukraine considers Russia’s recognition and support for the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) as an “act of armed aggression against Kiev,” a statement by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. TASS: Kiev sees Moscow’s support for DPR, LPR as ‘act of armed aggression’ – Foreign Ministry – World – TASS

China is against any unilateral restrictions and thinks that the introduction of sanctions is not the best way to settle differences, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a briefing on Wednesday in response to a question about the possibility of Beijing imposing sanctions on Russia over the issue of Ukraine. TASS: Beijing against imposing unilateral sanctions on Russia, Chinese Foreign Ministry says

One Ukrainian army serviceman died in the conflict zone in Donbass, while another was injured and transferred to a hospital, the headquarters of the Ukrainian military operation reported on Wednesday. TASS: Ukrainian headquarters report death of serviceman in Donbass

The government of Venezuela fully supports Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to protect peace in his country and region, President of the South American republic Nicolas Maduro said in a statement broadcast by state television on Tuesday. TASS: Venezuela supports Putin’s efforts to protect peace, says Maduro

The sanctions being imposed by the United States will not influence VEB’s commitment to its mission on the development of the Russian economy as the corporation will continue fulfilling its obligations and use all means to protect its rights and interests available, the press service of VEB.RF said in a statement on Wednesday. TASS: US sanctions not to affect VEB’s commitment to mission on Russia’s economic development

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made several statements on the situation in eastern Ukraine that are not compatible with his status, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, opening talks with UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen on Wednesday. TASS: UN Secretary General made statements on Ukraine incompatible with his status, Lavrov says

In the past few weeks, U.S. officials have warned several times that Russia plans to create the appearance of an attack on its own forces and broadcast those images to the world. Such a “false flag” operation, they alleged, would give Russia the pretext to invade Ukraine by provoking shock and outrage. Nextgov, Scott Radnitz: What are False Flag Attacks—And Could Russia Make One Work in the Information Age?

Three decades after its first mission, one of the most capable American spy planes is finally doing the job it was built for: tracking Russian forces as they invade eastern Europe. The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, has spent its career flying missions from Desert Storm to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in recent months, the plane has flown near the Russian border. Defense One, Marcus Weisgerber: ​​Above Ukraine, a Cold War Spy Plane Is Finally Tracking a Russian Invasion

Russia’s effort to justify its invasion of Ukraine didn’t convince the members of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, on Tuesday, according to a State Department senior official who attended a special session of the Permanent Council of the 57-member intergovernmental security organization. Defense One, Patrick Tucker: Russia’s Ukraine Claims Don’t Convince Europe, US Officials Say

Even before a single unmarked truckload of Russian troops entered eastern Ukraine, Russia had begun to cut its southwestern neighbor off from the world. On Monday, Lufthansa and Swiss Airlines suspended their flights to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and Lufthansa suspended its flights to Odessa. Air France and SAS, too, have stopped flying to and from Kyiv. Indeed, only a small number of airlines still fly to Ukraine: spending time in its airspace is now considered quite risky. And airlines have no obligation to keep Ukraine or any other country connected to the rest of the world. Defense One, Elizabeth Braw: Russia Is Choking Off Air Travel to Ukraine

Pope Francis said that “increasingly alarming scenarios” are emerging in Ukraine and he urged all sides to refrain from actions that could cause suffering to the people in the region. RFE RL: Pope Cites ‘Alarming Scenarios’ In Ukraine, Urges Restraint

Britain’s Foreign Office said the country is ready to help Ukraine “weather the storm of Russian aggression” with loan guarantees of up to $500 million and additional funds. RFE RL: Britain Says It’s Ready To Provide Ukraine With Up To $500 Million In Loan Guarantees

Several European Union member states are activating a team of specialists to help Ukraine ward off Russian cyberattacks, which have previously accompanied kinetic combat ordered by Moscow. Defense News, Sebastian Sprenger: European Union cyber defense team deploys to aid Ukraine

Another round of U.S. troops has been mobilized in support of Eastern European countries as Russia further invades Ukraine. Joining 6,000 troops already activated in Germany, Poland and Hungary, the Defense Department announced Tuesday that a spate of combat aircraft and infantry troops will head to the Baltics and Poland. Defense News, Meghann Myers: US attack helos, F-35s and infantry heading to Baltics amid Ukraine invasion

Amid increasing concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Czech drone manufacturer Primoco UAV has announced the company will halt its activities in the Russian market and sell its local subsidiary AO Primoco BPLA. In a statement, the company cited various difficulties related to Western sanctions against Russia as the reason why it decided to shut down its operations there as of Jan. 31. Defense News, Jaroslaw Adamowski: Czech drone maker withdraws from Russia amid sanctions concerns

New funding legislation to address the Ukraine crisis is in the works, with potential action next week, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are signaling support for supplemental spending amid Russian troop deployments in eastern Ukraine. Some lawmakers are also pushing to boost weapons deliveries from the U.S. to Ukraine — support that is already underway. Defense News, Joe Gould: Emergency funding proposal for Ukraine gets bipartisan backing in Congress

The US is ready to impose sanctions against Russian banks Sberbank and VTB if necessary, a high-ranked representative of the US administration told a briefing on the US’ new sanctions imposed against Moscow. TASS: US ready to slap sanctions on Russia’s Sberbank, VTB if necessary, says official

The US’ sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt cover the secondary market for bonds issued after March 1, 2022, by the Bank of Russia, the National Wealth Fund (NWF), or the Finance Ministry, the US Department of the Treasury said in a press release on Tuesday. TASS: US’ sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt cover secondary market for bonds

Russia will not leave another set of economic sanctions imposed by Canada unnoticed and will respond on the reciprocity principle, Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov told TASS on Tuesday. TASS: Russia to respond to Canada’s sanctions on rules of reciprocity, says envoy

The US’ sanctions against Promsvyazbank (PSB) also include 17 its subsidiaries, among them financial and technological enterprises, the US Department of the Treasury said in a press release on Tuesday. TASS: US Department of Treasury imposes sanctions against PSB, 17 its subsidiaries in Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cancelled a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that was planned for Thursday after Moscow’s recognition of two separatist regions in Ukraine as independent entities. Blinken said on Tuesday that he had agreed to meet Lavrov only if Russia did not invade Ukraine. Al Jazeera: Ukraine crisis: Blinken cancels meeting with Russia’s Lavrov

New sanctions have been imposed on Russia by the West, Japan and Australia for ordering troops into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. There are also threats of going further with the sanctions if Moscow was to launch an all-out invasion of its neighbour. Al Jazeera: Ukraine crisis: What sanctions have been imposed on Russia?

Waving blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and singing a patriotic military song, hundreds of residents of the once largely pro-Russian city of Mariupol gathered in the central Theatre Square with a defiant message for President Vladimir Putin: Russia is not welcome here. On Tuesday, as people stopped for pictures next to a sign calling Moscow an aggressor, the possibility of an advance by Russian-backed separatists was a bitter pill to swallow. Al Jazeera, Liz Cookman: ‘Mariupol won’t give up’: Ukrainians defy Russian invasion threat

It is not yet a traditional invasion, but certainly with the deployment of forces, gunfire, missile launches, troop movements, stock market crashes, and price increases, we are already in the midst of an asymmetric war, typical of the 21st century. Settimana News, Francesco Sisci: Putin’s asymmetric war

Secondo gli esperti siamo davanti a una vera e propria battaglia dell’informazione tra Russia e Stati Uniti. Questi ultimi però, guidati da Haines e Burns, hanno imparato dagli errori del passato. “Più Washington espone le azioni e le intenzioni di Mosca, meno vie d’uscita salva-faccia ha Putin”, ha scritto London, ex Cia. Formiche, Gabriele Carrer: Cosa c’è dietro la svolta iper-comunicativa della Cia sull’Ucraina

As Russia orders troops into eastern Ukraine, close ally China finds itself in a difficult position on the international stage as it tries to balance close ties with Moscow with its own domestic concerns and a desire to retain a working relationship with Europe. At the United Nations Security Council on Monday, China’s Representative to the UN  Zhang Jun called for restraint as tensions escalated following Moscow’s unilateral move to recognise the two breakaway areas in Ukraine’s east as independent. Al Jazeera, Erin Hale: ‘Shared resentments’ but Russia ties could be ‘awkward’ for China

(Russia, Ukraine, Australia) Great powers seek spheres of influence – but there are limits. The Interpreter, Sam Roggeveen: Russia-Ukraine: Lessons for Australia’s defence

The world is not enduring a ‘Ukraine crisis’, but rather a Russia crisis. So said Germany’s new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, at the most recent Munich Security Conference, which was dominated by the situation in eastern Europe. Project-Syndicate, The Strategist, Carl Bildt: Putin’s dangerous delusions of empire

The Kremlin’s official recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (DPR, LPR) on Monday, February 22, further aggravated the confrontation between Russia and the West. As if preparing for such a scenario, Russian ideologists and propagandists had recently come up with a new justification for the need for such a global standoff. Over the past weeks, the myth that Russia is somehow under the “yoke” of the United States comparable to the Mongol-Tatar yoke of the 13th century has become a popular propaganda construction. According to this concept, without a “victory” over the West and the overthrow of the “yoke,” the country cannot move forward (YouTube, February 2). The Jamestown Foundation, Kseniya Kirillova: Russian Propagandists Justify Aggressive Policies as a Battle Against the ‘Western Yoke’

Russia has recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (DPR, LPR) as “independent states,” eight years after seizing these territories in eastern Donbas from Ukraine. The scenario closely resembles Russia’s official seizure of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008 under the guise of recognizing their independence, many years after having occupied them de facto. In the case of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas, however, the Kremlin moved to recognize the DPR and LPR with lightning speed and to general surprise. The Jamestown Foundation, Vladimir Socor: Russia Recognizes Donetsk, Luhansk Satrapies as ‘Independent States’

The protracted escalation of the crisis encompassing Europe, from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Arctic but centered on Ukraine and driven entirely by Russia’s threats, has reached its inescapable culmination. President Vladimir Putin sought to sustain the military pressure on Kyiv and the West for as long as possible, but his troops could continue invasion-simulation exercises and stay in winter camps for only so long; thus, the last week in February marks the watershed, from which two steep slopes lead either to the eruption of hostilities or to a discharge of tensions. Last Tuesday (February 15), Putin claimed the beginning of a “partial” drawdown of forward echelons, and the Russian mainstream media delivered plenty of curated details about, for instance, Russian soldiers supposedly crossing the Kerch Strait bridge eastward, from Crimea to the North Caucasus. But in fact, the redeployments amounted to final preparations for a massive offensive on Ukraine from every possible land and sea direction (Izvestia, February 16). The spike in tensions peaked on Monday (February 21), with the obviously staged ceremony of discussion and then formal recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (Kommersant, February 22). The Jamestown Foundation, Pavel K.Baev: Crucial Week in Putin’s Pseudo-War Starts With a Bang, a Feint and a Flop

UAE

The United Arab Emirates plans to order 12 L-15 light attack planes from China, with the option of purchasing 36 more, the UAE state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday. Reuters: UAE to order 12 L-15 planes from China as it diversify suppliers

Halcon, a subsidiary of UAE’s Edge Group, unveiled a tube-launched swarming drone system known as Hunter 2-S on the first day of the Unmanned Systems Exhibition here. Hunter 2-S is part of the family of the Hunter 2 series of unmanned aerial vehicles. These drones are expected to share information with each other for tracking and maintaining positions and engaging with the right target. Defense News, Agnes Helou: Following first demonstration, Edge unveils swarming drones based on AI technology

UK 

Britain’s Ministry of Defence says its latest equipment spending plans for 2021-2031 are affordable, compared with a $9.9 billion deficit reported last year, a projection that auditors here still view with some skepticism. Officials said Feb. 21 it was the first time since 2018 that they had been able to file a rolling 10-year equipment plan expected to fit within spending projections. Defense News, Andrew Chuter: UK touts ‘affordable’ defense-spending plan, but auditors are wary

UKRAINE – TAIWAN

Russia’s intimidation of Ukraine is inviting media commentators to question American strength and credibility. It is fueling speculation about whether Beijing might replicate Moscow’s moves and seek to seize Taiwan by force. Such superficial analysis should not induce public anxiety in Taiwan or command the attention of Taiwan’s leaders. To be sure, there are lessons for Taiwan’s leaders to draw from events in Ukraine, but these are not them. Brookings, Ryan Hass: Learning the right lessons from Ukraine for Taiwan

USA

The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to know how it might improve its landmark framework of cybersecurity standards and practices and streamline similar efforts related to particular issues like privacy and supply-chain security. Nextgov, Mariam Baksh: NIST Refreshing Voluntary Cybersecurity Framework Amid Push for Mandates

Updated information technology systems are needed in the federal workspace to better allocate and distribute vital radio-frequency spectrum technology across government business activity, a new report posits. Nextgov, Alexandra Kelley: Scarce Radio Frequency Spectrum Requires More Modern IT, Watchdog Finds

If the United States develops the most innovative semiconductor designs in the world, but can’t manufacture the less complicated chips that its electronics and automobile industries require, is it a case of penny wise, pound foolish? IndustryWeek, Dennis Scimeca: How the US Can Reshore Semiconductor Manufacturing

The Department of Defense is juggling more than 685 artificial intelligence projects, including some associated with major weapon systems, like the MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Artificial intelligence ventures are underway across several services and combatant commands, with the U.S. Army leading the pack, according to a list published last week by the Government Accountability Office, a federal auditor of agencies and programs. Defense News, Colin Demarest: Hundreds of AI projects underway as Defense Department eyes future combat

Fairness is the bedrock principle of the American legal system. It is the standard to which we aspire and the basis of the rule of law. We want equity and justice for all regardless of background. Yet our legal system falls far short of this standard. Over the years, fundamental inequities in processes and outcomes have systematically disadvantaged our most vulnerable populations based on race and gender. Brookings, Darrell M.West: TechTank Podcast Episode 38: Laura Coates on racial inequities in our criminal justice system

Reaching the goal of a truly equitable health system in America will require several broad national strategies. These include a national commitment to adequate, affordable, and accessible care for all U.S. residents; greater state-level experimentation; and better designed financial assistance for coverage. It will also need a strong community health system that emphasizes social determinants of health (such as housing, transportation, and other local non-clinical factors influencing health) as well as deeper structural determinants of health inequities—including racism, the legal process, and economic barriers. Brookings, Stuart M. Butler and Nehath Sheriff: 5 building blocks to help achieve greater health equity

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic made supply chain snags a topic of dinner table conversation, the U.S. was already struggling with broken production systems in a key industry: housing. BrookingsJenny Schuetz: Dysfunctional policies have broken America’s housing supply chain

USA – AFGHANISTAN

National security threats may emerge because agencies failed to use all of the Defense Department’s available biometric and contextual data to properly vet Afgan evacuees who resettled in America amid the chaotic withdrawal last year, according to a new watchdog report. Nextgov, Brandi Vincent: U.S. May Have Allowed ‘Known or Suspected Terrorists’ to Go Undetected Among Resettled Afghan Evacuees

USA – AUSTRALIA – CANADA – FRANCE – GERMANY – NEW ZEALAND – UK

The United States, alongside six partner nations, has released a vision for future space operations focused on interoperability and responsible use of the space domain. The three-page Combined Space Operations Vision 2031, released Tuesday, was developed by the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and aims to increase cooperation among the partner countries as well as promote security in the space domain. Defense News, Courtney Albon: US and six partner nations sign on to new space operations vision

USA – INDO PACIFIC – INDIA

New Delhi finds a prominent place in the strategy’s focus on Washington’s network of allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific. The Diplomat, Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan: India’s Place in the New US Indo-Pacific Strategy

UZBEKISTAN – KAZAKHSTAN

The Uzbek Embassy in Kazakhstan has officially requested detailed information from Kazakh authorities regarding more than a dozen Uzbek nationals held in custody over the deadly January unrest in the Central Asian nation. RFE RL: Uzbekistan Requests Information About Its Citizens Held In Kazakhstan Over January Unrest

VIETNAM

According to a recent report by Transparency International, Vietnam’s corruption levels significantly decreased in 2021, down to 87th most corrupt from 104th in 2020. But this encouraging shift does not reflect a seismic corruption case relating to COVID testing kits that came to light in the last days of 2021. The sheer scale of it — and the engagement of public officials — shocked the country. East Asia Forum, Hai Hong Nguyen: Looking beyond the tip of Vietnam’s corruption iceberg